Navalny receives suspended sentence

On Wednesday, Navalny stated that he believes the suspended sentence is unfair and he intends to appeal it. Source: Maksim Bogodvid / RIA Novosti

On Wednesday, Navalny stated that he believes the suspended sentence is unfair and he intends to appeal it. Source: Maksim Bogodvid / RIA Novosti

Kirov Regional Court has examined the appeal of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and that of businessman Peter Ofitserov. The court has decided to change their decision to a suspended sentence for misappropriation of the Kirovles property. Navalny will now be able to continue his political activities.

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Court of Appeals considered the appeal of the verdict handed down on July 18 regarding the case of Kirovles. After the lawyers’ speeches, Alexei Navalny alleged that the sentence was politically motivated. Ofitserov expressed a similar view. As a result, the court issued a decision to leave the verdict in force, but to reduce the sentence to a suspended one.

Earlier, Navalny and Ofitserov were found guilty of embezzlement of the Kirovles Kirov State Enterprise and sentenced to five and four years in prison, respectively. After the first sentence, members of the opposition staged a mass protest in Moscow, and, the next day, the two men were released from prison pending the outcome of an appeal. Navalny took part in Moscow’s mayoral elections and even scored 27 percent of the vote, making him an informal leader of the liberal opposition.

On Wednesday, Navalny stated that he believes the suspended sentence is unfair and he intends to appeal it. Both men involved in the case insist that they are innocent.

As Mikhail Vinogradov, head of St. Petersburg Politics, explains, a suspended sentence is a compromise for all parties, which is unlikely to satisfy the trial’s participants. "I think this is a political compromise that does not suit anyone," he said. The political analyst notes that the now well-known opposition leader may lose the opportunity to participate in the elections.

"The sentence allows Alexei Navalny to participate in public politics, but this result blocks the way for the bright political figure who has a strong voter support in Moscow,” said Vinogradov. The expert noted that Navalny’s removal would be a correction of the protest movement that occurred after the 2012 rallies.

Leonid Polyakov, head of the General Political Science Chair at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, is sure that the judgment does not change the political situation, as the Constitutional Court of Russia has recently canceled the condition under which a person with a criminal record cannot not hold elected posts.

"The verdict of the Regional Court of Kirov Region should be considered in conjunction with the recent decision made by the Constitutional Court of Russia. The highest court annulled the requirement under which, if a person had a conviction for a major offense, he was deprived of the opportunity to participate in elections. Therefore Navalny is vested with all political rights," the expert said.

Judging by the politician’s plans, he is going to hold a rally for the People's Alliance party, which he wants to lead and participate in it during Moscow City Duma elections.

"Perhaps, after attorneys’ appeals, the opposition leader’s criminal record will be withdrawn altogether. However, we must keep in mind that, in relation to Navalny, there is another case being examined—that of Yves Rocher Vostok, where a real sentence with a term of imprisonment is possible,” said Polyakov. “The Kirov case has not changed the political situation. Navalny remains one of the most uncompromising and radical Russian politicians." 

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